Getting to Know Dublin

We arrived in Dublin, Ireland about 8:30 am this morning, after leaving Tulsa at 3:27 pm the day before. It was a long day of travel, however I am grateful for flights that arrived and departed on time and skies that remained free of storms. Other than the fact that none of us slept well on the plane, it was a smooth flight across the Atlantic. I watched movies and chatted with my family and seat mate, and closed my eyes and rested for a short time.

Today we decided to forego naps, even though we have all been awake for 36 hours, and get to know Dublin.

One of the best ways to get to know a new city is to take a tour on a Hop On/Hop Off bus. We found a café in which to enjoy our first Irish meal together, and then boarded a bus for a tour of Dublin. Come along!

We dined at Copper Alley Bistro, where Mom and I sampled the vegetable soup, which was puréed and served piping hot, and the others had traditional Irish fare such as fish & chips and beef stew. All of our meals were delicious and filling.

We sat on the top deck of a double decker tour bus and appreciated learning about this busy city. About half way through, the driver/tour guide changed and Bill was not only knowledgeable , he was humorous with a delightfully thick Irish brogue. He kept us interested and entertained.

We loved the impressive gothic structures that appeared moody against an overcast sky. We were surprised when we exited the plane this morning to learn it was a brisk 46 degrees in Dublin. Long sleeves and a jacket felt great today to protect against the chill.

We learned about Dublin’s history and heard colorful stories about founders, residents and events. This city has many national art museums, which can be visited free of charge. Today we didn’t “hop on and hop off” of the bus so we could get an overview of Dublin and learn where areas of interest were so we could return to them tomorrow.

One of the saddest stories, accompanied by sobering sculptures, was of the Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845-1852. The population decreased dramatically in Ireland, due to death by starvation and the exodus of people seeking to survive by emigrating to other countries. According to our guide, Ireland’s population has not recovered from that great tragedy.

We had fun, on this second day of our adventure. We learned how to get around the city, where to shop for simple dinners eaten at our apartment tonight, and we have a general idea of where major attractions are. As we ate this evening, we each contributed to a list of things we most want to do and see tomorrow.

And now, although it is still daylight outside, one by one the others have gone to bed for a long and well deserved night of rest. Dublin is beautiful and rich with architecture, history and legend. The people are friendly and helpful. We are excited about the possibilities and the opportunities that the new day will bring!

Dublin Bound

I am at the Tulsa airport, awaiting departure on the first leg of our journey to Dublin, Ireland. I’m sitting with my mom, sisters Linda and Debbie, and my niece Ashley. We’ve already laughed as we fumbled our way through the airport, dragging our carry ons, dropping travel pillows, watching my mom have to go through a security check because of metal in her knee.

This is going to be an amazing adventure, a one of a kind trip.

I’m posting early because our time is short here and even shorter at the Atlanta airport. And then we will lift into the air and arc over the Atlantic. I am looking forward to exploring Ireland, Scotland and England with my family. Even these times of sitting together at airports is precious as we chat and laugh and dream and wonder.

Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible. ” Charles Haughey

Next stop, Dublin.

The Next Adventure Begins

The last day before my next adventure was full of real estate related work, which was fine. I am grateful for amazing clients and a bustling business. And…everywhere I went today, the question I was asked was “Are you packed yet?”

The simple answer was…no!

I started packing about 8:00 this evening as work wound down and fresh clean clothes began coming out of the dryer. As I rolled clothes and tucked them into my carry on, the excitement that has been building for the last week bubbled up. It is almost adventure time!

My post is brief tonight, as I still have a couple of real estate emails to send and a few things yet to cross off my “to do before I go” list before I sleep. However, I am smiling as I write this post. I can’t help it. My wandering heart gets to venture forth, starting tomorrow.

The beginning of the packing process…piles of clean laundry and an empty suitcase.

Keeping an eye on the final work for the day.

Tomorrow’s simple travel clothes laid out and ready to wear. I’m excited to carry the plaid poncho onto the plane and let it double as a blanket.

Young Living Essential Tangerine Oil in the diffuser keeps my energy up.

All packed, in a carry on: one pair of jeans, two jackets, pjs, a pair of walking shoes, a dozen pairs of socks, a dozen undies, two bras, thirteen shirts, supplements, a clear makeup case with my BOOMstick trio and essentials such as a toothbrush and comb, and my quart sized zip lock bag with travel sized liquids such as shower gel, lotion and toothpaste. There is room yet for a few more items after my morning shower.

I have several new shirts from Solgave that I look forward to wearing on the trip. This one expresses well where I am in my life journey: having fun and following my heart and living with No Regrets. I am doing what I want to do, and living large, so that at the end of my journey those words will be my epitaph.

Fifteen hours and counting. The next adventure begins!

Seven Day Countdown

One week from today, I will be flying over the Atlantic, destination – Dublin, Ireland. My traveling companions will be my mom, my sisters, Linda and Debbie, and my niece Ashley. We will visit Scotland and England as well.

I learned during my Italy trip earlier in the year that it is possible to pack for a twelve day trip in a carry on suitcase. Tonight I spent a few minutes with Mom and Linda, demonstrating just how doable it is.

Mom was a good sport, laying out her clothes and toiletries so she and Linda could practice rolling each article of clothing tightly. Shoes were added first, then pants and a jacket rolled to start the foundational layer. Heavier shirts were rolled and completed the first layer.

Linda practicing her packing skills.

The cutest pic ever…my mom making decisions about which toiletries to pack. A quart sized plastic bag isn’t very big!

I rolled pajamas and shirts and started the second layer. There is plenty of room left to tuck in socks, underwear and supplements or meds. And there is yet more empty space to fill with purchases made during the trip.

The trick is to roll tightly. And fill every space by packing the rolled clothes snugly together.

Mom and Linda got the hang of it and discovered that you truly can pack for twelve days in a carry on. With that detail out of the way, we can focus on the growing excitement of discovering new places and experiencing different cultures.

Seven days and counting! The next adventure is about to begin.

St Stephens Green 20 Things to Do in Dublin

Three weeks from today, I’ll be in the air, flying to Dublin, Ireland. My sisters, mom, niece and I have been planning and anticipating this trip for a year. As always, that time does indeed pass. We are counting down the days until our adventure.

I’ve had a very full day, with back to back appointments. Coming in this evening, with more work to do on the computer, I suddenly realized I didn’t know what I was going to be writing about tonight. Two things happened, after I had that thought, as I sat on the side of my bed.

Checking Facebook, I saw that my sister Linda had posted a pic of an Irish pub in Dublin, commenting that we are leaving in three weeks. And looking up from my phone, I saw the book 20 Things to Do in Dublin Before You Go for a Feckin’ Pint on the bedside table. There it was, double inspiration.

I’ve enjoyed some downtime this evening, reading in the humorously written book and thinking about Ireland. Dublin will be our home base while we are in that country.

Must see site #7 is St Stephen’s Green.

This 22 acre park is located in the heart of Dublin, at the top of Grafton Street. According to the book, you can’t miss it…it’s the big green thing with all the trees! We are staying in the heart of the city, so I hope for at least a stroll through this gorgeous park.

Although this green space is peaceful and filled with ponds, statues, flowers and trees, the history of this place is anything but serene. In the 13th century there was a leper colony in this swampy, boggy spot, associated with a nearby church, St Stephen’s. By the 17th century the area was converted into a park and the plots surrounding it used for building palatial homes.

The park became popular as a place of public executions. Until the late 18th century, most of Dublin’s executions took place here. Crowds would gather to watch the unfortunate law breaker receive his punishment…which eventually led to the residents in the area protesting. The park became a private garden for the wealthy home owners surrounding it. In 1877, the great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the brewery founder, bought the park and donated it back to the city.

The park enjoyed a time of peace until the 1916 Easter Rising, when rebels used the Green as one of their bases of operation. Trenches were dug and the greenhouse used as a first aid center, but after a day, British soldiers began firing on the rebels, driving them out. Bullet holes can be seen in the Fusiliers’ Arch entrance. An aside to this event: both sides agreed to a brief ceasefire so that the park groundsman could feed the ducks!

The arch is the most popular entrance to the park. It was built in 1907 to commemorate the soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fought for the British Army in the second Boer War.

Statues are scattered throughout the Green, including an artistic installation in honor of Irish poet WB Yeats. There’s also one dedicated to Lord Ardilaun, who purchased the park and gave it to the city.

Other highlights in the park include the impressive facade of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, built to look like a conservatory.

There is also The Little Museum of Dublin, full of 20th century memorabilia, and one of Ireland’s most famous hotels, the Shelbourne. Among the hotel’s famous guests have been actors and actresses, authors, and John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie. The hotel features an equally famous pub, The Horseshoe Bar.

Reading about St Stephen’s Green, including its colorful history, ramps up my anticipation for this city. This will be my first trip to Ireland…it is a first for all five of us…and I am excited to explore and discover and soak it all in.

Learning about some of Dublin’s sites before I visit stirs a longing to see it all myself, and also creates a sense of familiarity when I do arrive. If we visit St Stephens Green, you can bet I will be checking the arch at the entrance for bullet holes!

Collecting Moments

In slightly more than a month, I'll be off on my next adventure, traveling to Ireland, Scotland and England. I'll be accompanied on this trip by my mom, my two sisters and my niece. As I did before the Italy trip, I am starting to cast the vision forward, "seeing" myself having a wonderful time in those countries and I am making preparations at home.

I already know how to pack a carry on for 12 days. I have clothes for the cooler temps that we will experience in the UK. My passport is ready. As I was cleaning the kitchen tonight, the thought came to find out interesting facts about the three cities that will be our home bases as we venture out. I welcomed the tap of inspiration.

Dublin will be our first stop on the trip. None of us have visited Ireland before. Here are fun things I didn't know about Dublin:

1. Dublin natives, or Dubliners, speak Dublinese, a mix of slang and curse words. An example is "I'm on the lash." which means "I'm out drinking."

2. Dublin is an old Irish Gaelic phrase, Dubh Linn, which means Black Pool.

3. Dublin covers 44.5 square miles. We are staying in the heart of the city.

4. Dublin has the youngest population in all of Europe. Approximately 50% of the population is under the age of 25.

5. Ireland's national treasure is The Book of Kells. This beautiful gold book, containing the four gospels, was created by Celtic monks in 800 AD. The book is located in the Trinity College Library.

Edinburgh is the next major city we will stay in, using it as our base as we explore Scotland. I found out these five things about Edinburgh.

1. Edinburgh's nickname, Auld Reekie (Old Smokey) doesn't refer to a smelly city but to the coal and wood smoke that used to billow from buildings and homes.

2. The majestic Arthur's Seat at the edge of the city is actually an extinct volcano that last erupted 350 million years ago.

3. The Fringe Festival, held in August, is not the original as the International Festive began first. When it originated, poorer acts had to set up on the "fringes" to be able to afford to perform, and hence the name of the festival.

4. Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire brigade.

5. Edinburgh Castle is ranked the 33rd most popular spot in the world for taking a selfie.

And London, England is our final stop on the UK trip. Here are five things about London that I didn't know.

1. The London Stone is protected by an elegant iron barrier, on Cannon Street. It has been noted on maps and in historical accounts for more than 1,000 years. And yet it has no inscription, sign or apparent use. No one knows who put it there or why!

2. The London Bridge was destroyed during a storm in 1091. Made of wood then, it was taken out by a large tornado, along with 600 houses. The bridge was rebuilt, with stone.

3. George Washington's statue, in Trafalgar Square, actually stands on American soil. Dirt was brought in from Virginia and placed under the statue's pedestal.

4. There are more that 1,000 bodies buried under Aldgate Station. Why? It was a plague burial pit, during the Black Plague.

5. London has 21 lost rivers. The reason they are hard to find is because these subterranean rivers flow through man made culverts and the city has been built on top of them.

Reading these little known facts about Dublin, Edinburgh and London has sharpened my desire to explore these places. I am excited to make new discoveries, experience different cultures and form bonds of friendships with people who have fresh perspectives.

I love the quote that says, Collect moments, not things. I'm off on a girls' trip soon, to do that very thing.

The Difference a Year Makes

One year ago today, I embarked on a journey that has totally changed my life. After suffering in pain for 21 years after a car accident, and finding no relief through conventional medicine, I sought alternative methods. I asked the Divine for help. I was using a cane and a wheelchair seemed to be in my near future. I knew I had a trip to Italy coming up in 11-12 months. Something had to shift.

I asked to be shown how I could take back responsibility for my health and improve. I asked…and an answer was given.

The Difference a Year Makes

I had already connected with Anthony William through his Facebook page. Called the Medical Medium, Anthony discerns medical information and the sources for illness and diseases through Spirit. I had already adopted the practice of drinking celery juice, as he suggested. The day after I asked for Divine guidance, a post appeared in my newsfeed. Anthony’s article discussed the pain that can linger for years after a traumatic event, such as a car accident, and what the underlying causes were. Reading his words, I recognized myself and my chronic condition. Best of all, Anthony offered a way to heal.

The Difference a Year Makes
I ordered Anthony’s first book, Medical Medium, and later his second one, Life Changing Foods. These two books have been my roadmap back to health and wellbeing. I discovered that the severe inflammation in my sciatic nerves was caused by the shingles virus. Other health issues I was having were the result of the strep and Epstein Barr viruses, and my body’s weakened immune system brought about by years of eating a poor diet.

At last, I had hope…and a plan. It was two fold: eliminate the viruses from my body, and support my body’s immune system so the inflammation could be reduced, allowing healing to occur.

On July 1, 2016, I began a 28 day healing cleanse. I eliminated the foods that feed viruses and inflammation: meat, dairy, eggs, gluten, sugar, corn and soy (because of GMO), and canola oil. During that first month I only ate fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. I immediately experienced a lessening of pain and inflammation. A host of other disorders began to clear up as well. I parked my cane in the bedroom corner, where it has remained, unused. At the end of the 28 days, my simple wholesome plant based diet became a simple wholesome plant based lifestyle. I continued eating raw and cooked veggies and fruits, and included brown rice, legumes, nuts and non GMO products such as organic tortilla chips.

The Difference a Year Makes Me in October 2015.  The cane was a necessity, not a costume prop. Looking at the photo, I can tell that I was in pain by the stiffness in my body and the positioning of my legs and feet. This pic makes tears come to my eyes. 

The Difference a Year Makes And this pic makes me smile. It was taken recently, almost a year after I embraced a plant based lifestyle. I can climb trees again! 

These are the amazing changes that have occurred in the past year, as I continue eating a nutrient dense plant based diet, and continue to avoid the foods on my “No” list.

• The inflammation is gone from my sciatic nerves, allowing me to walk and move and sit without pain. Inflammation is gone as well from my joints, spine and neck, easing stiffness and pain in those places as well.

• Headaches, seasonal allergies and skin rashes and hives are gone. My skin is clear and vibrant. I’ve learned that healthy skin, nails and hair begins inside, with a healthy liver.

• My digestive problems have cleared up. I suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, gall bladder problems, stomach pain, an overly sensitive intestinal tract and severe acid reflux. I used  to keep antacids on hand always. I never take one now.

• My energy is high, meaning my vibrational frequency is high as well. The higher my vibrational frequency is, the less likely I am to develop serious diseases, which thrive when my body is weakened and in a low vibrational state.

• My sleep disorders are gone. I sleep without taking aids and wake up refreshed.

• I have clarity of thought and an incredibly positive attitude. I feel euphoric most of the time. I laugh more, and feel expansive at a soul level.

• I have become more lean, strong and fit, losing more than 60 pounds in 12 months. I am continuing to slowly lose weight. I trust my body to find its ideal level of health and wellness, and that includes weight. I want to emphasize that I maintain a plant based lifestyle for my health. The weight loss has been an additional result and not the reason for going plant based.

• I am very attuned to my body and its needs. When I crave a food, such as dark green leafy veggies, I eat them. It is my body’s way of letting me know what I need. Now that I no longer have food addictions, I can trust my cravings. Recently, my body developed an abhorrence toward certain kinds of teas. I no longer drink them. I love having this built in guidance system.

• I am continuing to improve, health wise. I still have some muscle tightness around my knees, after years of inflammation. It used to take me up to an hour to straighten out my legs if they were bent for too long. Now it takes me about 10 seconds. I am using Young Living Essential Oils on the muscles around my knees at night, with great results. I have also just noticed a loosening of my sacroiliac joint in my low back, which has been frozen for 22 years.

The Difference a Year Makes
A year ago, I had no idea that all of these changes would take place. I only knew I had to walk a different path, or I wouldn’t be walking at all. I am deeply grateful to Anthony William for showing me another way to heal. I don’t share my story to convince anyone that this is what she or he must do. I share my story for those who, like me, are asking questions and looking for help. Hope, and help, are available. I am proof of that.

Health and wellness begins within the body, at a cellular level. What I consume, whether it is a good diet or a poor one, is all that my body has to create with it. I am responsible for what I choose to eat and drink. And I am responsible for the consequences. I fully accept that responsibility.

My healing journey continues. A year ago, I read the quote, Do something today that your future self will thank you for. I made a choice that day. I would be living the next days, weeks and months anyway. I chose to live them with a focus on shifting my health through a plant based lifestyle.

I am my future self today, one year later. And I am grateful. Thank you, Cindy-in-my-past, for believing there was something better ahead and making that crucial decision. Thank you for staying with it and making choices every day that have resulted in a healthier existence.

What will my future self thank me for, one year from today? I’m excited to find out…

The Difference a Year Makes

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Preparing Our Souls for Beauty

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me, touring Italy, was how much I enjoyed visiting the churches in that country. I had the thought, early on, that if you’ve seen one cathedral, you’ve seen them all. And there are many to see. Every city, every tiny village, has at its heart a mighty cathedral or basilica. But how wrong I was in thinking they would be the same, or even similar. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty
The first thing I learned from our tour guide is that the word “cathedral” isn’t interchangeable with the word “church”. A cathedral is the seat of the regional bishop. A basilica, a commonly used word for churches in Italy, is defined as a large church. The Italian word for cathedral is duomo. I saw that term used frequently as well. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty          

St Peter’s Basilica, Rome

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty

What I wasn’t prepared for was how incredibly beautiful the cathedrals and basilicas of Italy would be, or how much they would impact me. The architecture was amazing and inspiring. Victor Hugo wrote, “Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol, but every human thought has its page in that vast book.”  

The immensity of the structures was mind boggling, as was the age of many of the buildings and the length of time it took to complete a cathedral. It typically took more than 100 years to build a cathedral, and sometimes 200 to 300 years before the work was finished. Imagine the generations of builders and architects who created such enduring magnificence. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty        Siena Duomo

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty Basilica of St Mary of the Flower, Florence

They weren’t all elaborate structures, but each one was unique, and each told a story. As we wandered through the streets of villages, we would suddenly step into a piazza, a square, and there was usually a church housed there. They never failed to capture my attention or my appreciation, these keepers of history and art. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty Basilica in Lucca

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty St Francis Basilica in Assisi 

That is what I came to realize about the churches of Italy. They were museums, full of paintings, mosaics, stained glass and sculptures. They housed relics, in some instances. The worn floors told of the passage of many feet. That dark line across the marble was from generations of drowsy heads resting against the wall. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty St Peter’s Basilica 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty Basilica in Ravenna 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty             Cathedral in Orvieto 

As I entered the cathedrals and basilicas I was often moved to tears. The quiet spaces felt sacred. These churches are still in use. Services are held daily in many of them. However the Divine invitation felt deeper than a call to worship. 

It felt like an invitation to join with the countless souls who had sat or knelt within these walls throughout the centuries, and contemplate the expansiveness of life and the intricacies of the heart. There was the bittersweet realization of the permanence of these gorgeous stone cathedrals and the impermanence of human bodies. 

Oh, how glorious were those places. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty
“The cathedrals and churches architecturally prepare our souls for the beauty of the Eucharist.” Allen R Hunt

I love that quote in the context of the cathedrals of Italy. The eucharist is the sacrament of the Holy Communion, the drinking of the wine, the breaking of bread, signifying union with Christ through his sacrifice. 

For myself, viewing the cathedrals of Italy prepared my soul for the wondrous beauty of creative inspiration. And they opened my soul in unexpected ways to a deeper communion with the Divine. 

It was an invitation I was grateful I accepted. 

Preparing Our Souls for Beauty

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation?

One of the reasons I switched to a plant based lifestyle last summer was because of the trip to Italy this year. Before I embraced eating healthier, I had trouble walking without pain and I was using a cane. My hope was to walk without a cane and without pain, during the trip. 

If you’ve followed my healing journey, you know my health has been transformed by adopting a plant based lifestyle. No more cane and no more pain have been just two of the positive outcomes as a result. However, as the trip drew closer, I wondered if it was possible to eat plant based in Italy. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
Breakfasts were easy while in Italy. Every hotel we stayed in offered a large breakfast buffet. I could choose from a selection of fresh and baked fruits, juices and even veggies such as green beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
But what about lunches and dinners, in a country famous for pasta? A Divine opportunity brought the answer. Because of severe weather in the US and being diverted to London, we missed the welcome dinner the first night of the tour. The next day, chatting with our tour director, Fabi, I asked if it was considered rude to request gluten free pasta at restaurants. 

Elissa, Dayan and I were about to head out into Rome for our first dinner. Fabi happened to be giving Dayan directions to nearby cafes. Otherwise, I would not have asked. And I felt reluctant to ask at a restaurant. I didn’t want to be perceived as a picky eater. That was my issue  though. 

Fabi assured me that most restaurants did indeed offer gluten free pasta and vegetarian or vegan meal options. My first dinner was in a delightful cafe with outdoor seating, located on a narrow street lined with restaurants. I enjoyed roasted potatoes and freshly grilled veggies. No one looked at me oddly or questioned my choice. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
The ease of ordering that first meal encouraged me to stay within my plant based diet during the entire trip. However, I have to praise Fabi for taking charge of my meals. Our tour included some lunches and dinners, at various restaurants and two different vineyards. Without me asking her to, she called ahead to every venue and explained that I was following a restricted diet. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
Without exception, at each place I was served delicious, freshly prepared plant based meals. No gluten. No meat. No sugar, dairy or eggs. Instead of a sweet dessert, I was presented with a bowl or plate of sumptuous fruit. The chefs or head waiters introduced themselves to me before the meal, delivered each course with a flourish and a smile, and checked with me after to make sure I was happy with the food. 

Happy? I was thrilled! And those who brought me my special meals did so with a noticeable sense of accomplishment and pride that was endearing. I felt so well cared for, and not at all a burden. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
When we were free to eat on our own, I did fine ordering from the menu. Dayan noticed the small print that read gluten free available. From Rome to the coastal villages in Cinque Terre to Venice, gluten free pasta and/or vegan options were readily available, making it easy for me to stay plant based. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
Was it difficult, eating differently from everyone else? Not at all. Was it boring? Absolutely not. I enjoyed a variety of delicious foods. And it was crucial for me. If I had abandoned my plant based lifestyle, even for a few days, I would have risked feeling unwell or opened myself up to discomfort. It was important to me to feel my very best. 

And I did do well. I walked with ease, 4-6 miles a day. I flew for hours and hours, without my legs locking up. I climbed stairs, which a year ago would have been impossible. Stairs can still be a challenge for me, due to years of pain and inflammation that has caused muscle tightness around my knees, but I am continuing to improve. I kept up with the tour group and I was extremely pleased with my level of fitness. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
My experience was encouraging. I found that it is possible to eat a plant based diet while on vacation. My tips are: make healthy eating a priority, drink plenty of water, get enough rest, and don’t be afraid to ask for specially prepared meals. 

I am so grateful for Fabi, who went above and beyond to ensure that I ate healthy meals. And I am grateful for each chef who took the time to create magnificent meals for me. I’m also so thankful for my grandson and daughter who frequently asked if I was finding healthy options on the menus and often checked ahead before choosing a cafe, just to make sure I had plenty to eat. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation
Surrounded by such caring and conscientious people, how could I not do well on this trip? And that would be my last suggestion for maintaining a diet while on vacation…surround yourself with supportive people. They may not eat what you eat, but they can certainly offer encouragement and love and compassion as you care for yourself.  

Healthy eating is a choice…a daily choice. Whether dining in my own home or in a fine restaurant in Venice, I am the one who decides what I will eat. I chose well. And my body thanked me for it. 

Can You Eat Plant Based While on Vacation

An Angel Named Jason

While I was in Italy, my blog posts focused on each day’s adventures and photos that captured the beautiful landscapes and treasures around us. Honestly, by the end of the long, fun packed days, I barely had the energy to write anything more than that! 

Home now, I want to share some of the stories of Italy, providing depth to the experiences we had. Although this first tale didn’t actually take place in Italy, the events that unfolded enabled us to get to our destination in a timely, and miraculous, way. 

Let me tell you about Jason. 

An Angel Named Jason
Enroute to the Charlotte, NC airport, on our first travel day, the pilot suddenly announced that we were being diverted to Chattanooga, TN. Severe weather in the Charlotte area posed a threat to incoming aircraft. Airports in Knoxville and Chattanooga filled with airplanes, and deplaned passengers, as we all waited for clearance to proceed. 

Most of us on board these planes had connecting flights in Charlotte. In our case, my daughter Elissa, grandson Dayan and I needed to catch our international flight to Rome, Italy. As time ticked by while we were grounded in Chattanooga, it became doubtful that we were going to make our connection. 

We didn’t. The plane to Rome took off two hours before we made it to Charlotte. 

We weren’t the only passengers stranded in Charlotte. As more and more planes arrived late, the airport filled with displaced travelers, intent on finding another flight to get them to their destinations. Imagine that scene. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people scrambling for seats on the few planes that remained at the airport. And imagine the moods of those desperate passengers. There was crying. There was anger. There was frustration. 

We were concerned as well. We had a tour that started the next evening with a welcome dinner.  

And we made a conscious decision. The weather couldn’t be helped. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that connecting flights were missed. We were determined to treat the American Airlines employees with patience and kindness. 

We also took the action steps that we could. Dayan got on the phone with our Missouri travel agent, seeking advice. Ken attempted to book a new flight for us. There was an airplane leaving for London shortly. However, although he could see that there were seats available, he was not allowed to reserve them for us. We were required to speak to an American Airlines employee and arrange that ourselves. The problem with that was everyone was being told that flight was sold out. 

As we moved slowly toward the help counter, a 45 minute process, chaos roiled around us. The three women in line ahead of us were trying to get to Rome as well. Dayan’s dad and stepmom offered helpful suggestions via phone. And Ken called back with this advice: Ask in a kind and authoritative way for seats that were still showing as available on the London flight, even if we were told it was sold out. 

An Angel Named Jason
The series of events that happened next was miraculous to us. 

As we moved closer to the help counter, the situation sounded grim. There were simply no flights available until the next day. It seemed probable that we would not arrive in Rome until Friday, missing the beginning of our tour. The ladies in front of us didn’t seem to be finding seats as they spoke to a representive. We stepped up to speak to the next available rep. Dayan spoke confidently and kindly, explaining our situation. And then he asked for the seats on the London plane. The woman looked at her computer screen, and told us she didn’t want to waste any time. “Go quickly,” she said, “get to the departing plane’s gate and see if they can help you.” 

We had not heard those words spoken to anyone else. With a spark of hope, we trotted through the packed airport, dodging people, pulling our carry on luggage behind us. 

At the gate we were given conflicting information. No seats available. Get in another line. The plane had already been boarded and was preparing for take off. I got in the other line indicated while Elissa and Dayan stayed at the gate, talking to the women behind the counter there. When I turned around to check their progress, I saw Dayan talking to a young dark haired man. My grandson waved me over. 

The man’s name was Jason. He was an American Airlines employee and he took it upon himself to get us on that plane. I don’t know where he came from or why he decided to help us, but we were so grateful for his assistance, even if it didn’t work out. 

Jason moved to an empty counter and using the computer there, got to work. And he was determined. Others said there were no seats available. The computer kept freezing or getting bogged down in a loop. Jason kept working. He called out repeatedly to the two women, “These passengers are supposed to be on that plane. Hold the plane.” 

The time for departure came and went. The airplane remained at the gate. Jason kept working. The women came to believe we were supposed to be on the London plane. One woman even took responsibility for accidently deleting us from the system, sure that we were on the original passenger list. A rep kept checking on our status. The plane needed to leave. 

Jason kept working. He assured us we belonged on the flight. As he worked he shared with us that he was of Italian ancestry. Ah, the reason perhaps, that he was helping us so diligently. He said he still had family in a little town in northern Italy that we had probably never heard of. Lucca, it was called. “Lucca!” we answered, “Yes! We are visiting Lucca. We know of it.” And it turned out, Jason had been on vacation. This evening, this night of chaos, was his first shift back at work. He didn’t know it when he reported to work.  We didn’t know it when we hurried to the gate.  But he was there for us. 

One by one, Jason got us entered into a system that didn’t want to accept us. They were victories worth cheering over as each boarding pass was printed out, and gratitudes were expressed each time the captain was told there were passengers still coming on board. 

Jason did it. He got us on the plane to London. He gave Elissa the name of his great aunt, who owns a hotel in Lucca. We gave him our deepest thanks. As we took our seats on the airplane, among passengers who were, amazingly, not upset by the delay, I marveled over what had just happened. I can’t explain how it happened. I only know that we kept our hearts open and our attitudes pleasant and we asked. We asked and we received. And we flew to London overnight, and from there to Rome. Jason made that connecting flight happen as well. 

An Angel Named Jason
We thought of Jason often during the Italy tour. We talked about him as we wandered through the magical village of Lucca. Could that older woman unlocking her door be his aunt? Did his family live down this lane? We loved that beautiful, medieval town. We loved the connection between it and the angel who came to our rescue in a crowded airport full of upset travelers. 

We are grateful to the Divine, who met us where we were in the journey, and heard our request for help. We are grateful for our travel angel, who appeared with the intention of getting us on the plane. He created a pocket of calm and assurance around us, and brought together a team of people who worked on our behalf. 

Grazie, Jason. Grazie mille. A thousand thank yous. 

An Angel Named Jason  The bell tower of Lucca